Ashton glad of final Saracens' Euro flourish

Sun, 14 May 2017 04:59

EUROPEAN CUP FINAL REACTION: Chris Ashton said it was "nice to do something on a high" after his record-breaking try helped Saracens clinch back-to-back European Champions Cup titles.

Saracens recorded a 28-17 win over Clermont in Saturday's Final at Murrayfield.

Ashton has just a few more weeks with the London club before he leaves to join Clermont's French rivals Toulon after the end of the season.

The former England wing marked his final European appearance for Saracens in style, opening the scoring when he raced onto fullback Alex Goode's grubber kick in behind Clermont's defence.

That effort saw Ashton set a new record of 37 tries in European club rugby union's premier tournament, breaking the mark he had shared with former France wing Vincent Clerc.  

"I won't lie, I'm pretty happy about it," Ashton told reporters.

"But I think a lot of it isn't down to me individually, it's down to the group of players I've been playing with over the past five years and Alex has been a big part of that.

"It's nice for my name to be up there but a lot of it belongs to this club, to be honest."

Saracens, the reigning English champions are now just two matches away from a 'double Double'.

Asked by AFP how he could walk away from Saracens, Ashton - whose time with the north London side also saw his England career end through injury and suspension, smilingly replied: "I had a feeling that was going to come up.

"Yeah, I'm going to miss it. Like I said with the try stuff, I've had five amazing years here, some of it has been life-changing.

"I've had unbelievable highs and definitely some lows along there, and the support I've had from the coaching staff and the group of players has been nothing short of phenomenal, they've always been by my side.

"It will be a sad day [when he leaves Saracens], it was nice to do something on a high today.

"Obviously we've still got next week [a Premiership semifinal against Exeter], but I'll celebrate today with the lads and I'll enjoy it."

The 30-year-old former Rugby League star, whose England union career yielded 19 tries in 39 Tests, added: "Life changes sometimes, and opportunities arise.

"I think my time now is to move on."

After Ashton broke the deadlock, Saracens added a second try through England lock George.

Clermont hit back thanks to converted tries from centre Remi Lamerat and wing Nick Abendanon.

But Goode's late try - plus 13 points from the boot of England goal-kicker Owen Farrell ensured Saracens remained out in front even when Clermont closed to within a point.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola, the man-of-the-match, added: "It's such an amazing group of guys. I'm just thankful that somehow we got another win.

"We're going to have a good party tonight."

The defeat was Clermont's third loss in the Final in five years and left them still searching for a first major European title.

"This team has got a lot of belief," said English wing Abendanon, whose try capped a brilliant length of the field move.

"It's not a nice feeling, but I'm assured we'll be there or thereabouts next year and we've got to hope next year is going to be our year."

Agence France-Presse

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Sat, 21 October 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Leinster 12h00 Scotstoun
Sharks v Blue Bulls 12h30 Durban
Treviso v Toulon 14h15 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Western Province v Golden Lions 15h00 Cape Town
Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Munster v Racing Metro 16h30 Thomond Park
Leicester Tigers v Castres 16h30 Welford Road
Saracens v Ospreys 18h45 Allianz Park
Sun, 22 October 2017
Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs 12h00 Altrad Stadium
La Rochelle v Ulster 14h15 Paris
Wasps v Harlequins 16h30 Ricoh Arena
Fri, 27 October 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Kings 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 AJ Bell Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Munster 19h35 Sportsground
Ospreys v Dragons 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 1 1 0 0 5
Ulster 1 1 0 0 4
Harlequins 1 0 0 1 1
Wasps 1 0 0 1 0
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 1 1 0 0 5
Clermont Auvergne 1 1 0 0 4
Ospreys 1 0 0 1 1
Northampton Saints 1 0 0 1 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 1 1 0 0 5
Exeter Chiefs 1 1 0 0 4
Montpellier 1 0 0 1 1
Glasgow Warriors 1 0 0 1 0
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Racing Metro 1 1 0 0 4
Castres 1 0 1 0 2
Munster 1 0 1 0 2
Leicester Tigers 1 0 0 1 1
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Bath 2 2 0 0 8
Toulon 1 1 0 0 4
Scarlets 2 0 0 2 2
Treviso 1 0 0 1 0